Does Cannabis Actually Cause Laziness?
The answer isn’t a simple yes or no.
Published on October 7, 2016

Cannabis is commonly associated with a lack of motivation. Those who do not smoke weed, or who wish to demonize the plant for one reason or another, typically point to the “lazy stoner” stereotype.

When cannabis became a popular recreational drug during the 1950s, scientists began to study its effects on users and the term “amotivational syndrome” became prevalent.

Medical News Today reports on a study from the University of British Columbia concluding that marijuana can, in fact, cause laziness. Its findings have shown that rats do not want to perform cognitive tasks once given marijuana. That must mean marijuana causes every person to be lazy, right?

If that is the case in humans, then why are we able to successfully navigate through complex video games that require strategy and advanced cognitive abilities? Why do body-conscious athletes believe marijuana helps improve their active lifestyles?

Clinicians have stated that people who smoked displayed “more passive, inward turning, amotivational characteristics.” Two out of three of those actually sound pretty good.

Sure, a bowl or four can cause a temporary lapse of incentive and inspiration, but many strains are meant to aid in relaxation and sleep. Two other studies concluded that smoking cannabis can reduce motivation in the short-term, but there is no evidence that it impedes personal drive in the long-term.

“We found that when you give people the equivalent of one spliff’s worth of cannabis, under controlled conditions in a laboratory, they are less willing to work for money.”

Naturally, I am ready to drown out the noise of capitalism and commerce after one spliff. Money is man-made; the beautiful high received from pot is not. But that doesn’t mean I’m ready to sacrifice my job, my apartment, my car, my social life, or even my ability to buy more marijuana for any permanent feeling of euphoria.

The study concluded: “Our results suggest that when you recently smoked cannabis, it reduces your motivation in the short-term. On the other hand, long-term cannabis use may not impair your motivation, as long as you stop smoking it for at least 12 hours.”

There are problems with studies like these. First of all, the limited amount of participants in the laboratory setting can skew the statistics; from six to 20 participants in the studies mentioned above.

This limitation raises more questions. Who are these people being studied? What is their history with laziness or lack of motivation without weed? How potent is the weed they normally smoke? Are they giving indica to someone who only smokes sativa?

We all have those friends who are able to take a few bong hits before clocking in for work. They are the ones who can complete their tasks with no problem. My best friend is able to smoke a bowl, do a dab—rinse and repeat—before going out to make enough sales to be successful.

Is associating cannabis with laziness the wrong way to go about this? Can people just simply be lazy regardless of how much weed they smoke?

Maybe, or maybe not, I’m too stoned to do my own study. I will, however, point out that laziness is a sign of intelligence according to the Journal of Health Psychology. Maybe it is time for us stoners to give this one to science.

There is too much contradictory evidence in all of these studies, so I am going to concede to the critics. Yes, we are potheads. Yes, potheads are lazy. Yes, potheads are more intelligent than non-smokers.

Blake Taylor
Blake Taylor worked for a leading medical/recreational marijuana grower in the Seattle area and has been a freelance writer for four years.
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